One of the hardest things to understand about war, especially by women, is the flagrant destruction of homes and nessaries of life. General Franz Siegel was exiled from Germany because of his advocacy of popular government. He was given a high position in the Union army in order to gratify the German soldiers who had entered the army in large numbers. Such a man should be expected to have manly and generous sentiments. The following incident of his raid near Augusta shows how brutal he was:
On a large plantation near Augusta, Ark., in 1862 was an old Southern home. There were 200 negro slaves contentedly working and the land was in a fine state of cultivation. But in the roomy comfortable old house which the blue-coats surrounded was only an old woman and her daughter.
"Don't seem to be any men 'round?" questioned an officer.
"All gone to fight the Yankees," answered the woman promptly.
Then a soldier came up to the officer, saying, "There is only a small quantity of meat in the smoke hous." When questioned as to where the rest of the meat was hidden, the woman refused to tell. Threatened with the burning of her home if she did not direct them to the place of concealment, she still refused, saying that over 200 people on the place were depending upon her for food.
"But," said the officer, "What will you do? You can save your house by giving up the meat."
"No," she replied, "I cannot let my people starve; as for the house, there are plenty of logs in the woods to build another one."
A soldier led around a beautiful horse and at once the girl ran to it and caught the bridle, begging them not to take her pet. Fine old furniture was broken and thrown from windows and doors; great feather beds and pillows were carried into the yard and ripped open with knives. But the woman sat under a tree placidly knitting-deaf alike to threats and destruction.
"What are you knitting?" inquired one.
"Socks for the Confederate soldiers."
"How many pairs have you made?"
"So many that I can rib them, turn the heel and toe them off in the dark."
"How many have you on hand?"
"Not a pair; sent them away yesterday."
The negroes denied knowing anything about where the meat was hidden, the girl continued pleading to keep her horse, the old woman knitted in silence. Finally the order to start the fire was given. Then the officer said each of them might have one thing saved for them out of the house. The mother said to give her her sewing machine, and it ws set near her; the girl chose her piano and it was brought out; then the torch did the work. The girl was allowed to lead her horse as she went to stand beside her mother. Thus the enemy left them to see the destruction of their home, the old woman knitting, knitting, the young woman standing quiet, as arm thrown over her horse's neck-a picture of war's cruelty, and illustration of woman's sacrifice and fortitude.
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids